As marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about our message, as well we should. Our job is to tell prospective customers how we can help them, so we focus on what we say. The Internet has turned the tables on marketers, however. Time was that marketing messages were conceived by extremely creative people to get attention for products, but now, listening to what customers say and do are just as important as creativity. Old-time marketers have always listened to a few customers in focus groups, so you can think of the Internet is the biggest focus group of all time.

All Internet marketing is more successful when you listen before you speak. And if you listen before you speak again. You must listen to what your customers say and you must watch what they do. Only by seeing what works and what doesn't do you have a chance of persuading them to believe your marketing message.

Take social media as an example. A proven social media practitioner would advise you that before you engage in social media that you should first listen to the conversation that is already out there about your products and your industry. Failing to do so is like walking into a cocktail party where you don't know anyone, not listening to what is going on, and just starting to talk to no one in particular.

Working with a firm that employs listening technology as part of itsmodus operandi will get your social media marketing off on the right foot. Merely going at this like an ad agency with a clever person who comes up with ideas in a vacuum just won't achieve the same success, in my experience.

But it's not just social media. With search, you must wait for the searcher to initiate-so you are listening first. With banner ads, you can test them to see which ones work better than others. With e-mail, you can test response with small mailing lists before sending the winning version to the main list.

With all forms of Internet marketing, listening to what customers say and watching what they do are the key methods for fine-tuning your message until it resonates with your audience.

This might sound like a lot of work. It is.

Instead of just thinking up your message and delivering it, you are constantly tweaking and changing what you say based on the customer response. And it is time-consuming, honestly. It undoubtedly is less work to come up with just one message and deliver it, than it is to come up with dozens of messages, constantly tinkering to get your final one.

But you're not trying to minimize the amount of work to come up with a message. You're trying to maximize response. And there's no way that your first message will be as good as your 50th. So, even though it seems like coming up with 50 messages is more work than coming up with one (because it is), it ends up being easier to get results this way. So, if you can guarantee getting good results one way, but not the other, which one is less work in the long run?

Ask yourself: If you aren't listening to your customers to fine-tune your messaging, just what are you listening to?

Originally posted on Biznology Blog.

October 25, 2012

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


Completely agree, Mike. Marketing is 2012 is a lot like marketing in 1920. It's small town rules where the customer wins and businesses must focus on pulling instead of pushing. Social media has given consumers the opportunity to get past "gatekeepers."

Your article made me think of Twitter Search as a powerful tool for those who want to listen and interact with their customers when it matters most. I often tell my clients about the advantages of using Twitter search in their local social media strategy. It gives those small business owners to focus in on terms in the context of tweets, like "Denver furnace repair," and reply to them when necessary.

Nice piece! Thanks for the read!

There is also a big difference between just listening and actually hearing. You need to understand what your audience is saying and what they really mean if you want to truly interact and engage with them. Social media has put the power of messaging/communication in the hands of your audience--brands don't own the conversation anymore.

Great point, Nick. We all tend to filter what we hear and some of us avoid hearing the hard truths. If you let that happen to you in social media, there will likely be a drumbeat that forms that becomes hard to ignore--not just by you but by your target market.

Hi Mike, I am very glad that you have emphasized the importance of an internet marketer's listening skills that are needed for both producing high value products on the customers' demand and also maintaining quality interactive conversations with the prospects and customers.

I am really grateful to you for sharing with us such an insightful and invaluable piece of information that’s particularly encouraging for myself as somebody who, believe or not, has painfully and embarrassingly struggled to start making money online since 2005.

After having gone through my 7 year long hurting drama and agony of trying to figure out how I can make money online, I must tell you that you now have made me feel much more confident and motivated to persist on my journey to my online success.

Please, feel free and welcome to visit my first ever personal blog that I've setup recently and leave your comments there.

In advance many thanks.

Bruno Babic

Thanks for the kind words, Bruno. Best of luck in your road to success.

Yes, we need to know what they ( customer ) want before sale some product to them. Give them some benefit first. More easy to sale with trusty.

Thanks, really helpful article.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Internet Marketers Must Listen Before They Speak